Lincoln – The No. 13 Nebraska volleyball team made quick work of Northwestern on “Pink Night,” sweeping the Wildcats 3-0 (25-12, 25-22, 25-13) on Wednesday at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Huskers improved to 11-5 overall and 5-2 in Big Ten action, while Northwestern dropped to 13-5 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten. The Huskers outhit Northwestern .290 to .000, the lowest a Husker opponent has hit this season.
Alicia Ostrander led a balanced Husker attack with 12 kills, her third straight match with double-digit kills and seventh in eight matches. Ostrander hit a career-best .440 on the night. Kadie Rolfzen had nine kills and 13 digs while hitting .500. Meghan Haggerty had five kills and six blocks, while Cecilia Hall had five kills and four blocks. Mary Pollmiller had 28 assists. The Huskers had an 11-6 edge in blocks. Although the Wildcats entered the match second in the Big Ten in digs per set in conference play, Nebraska outdug them 42-40 and also had a 7-0 advantage in service aces. Katie Dutchman led Northwestern with seven kills. Nebraska held the Wildcats’ best offensive threat, Symone Abbott, to just three kills and a -.150 hitting percentage. She came in averaging 3.48 kills per set. In the first set, the Huskers turned a 2-1 deficit into an 8-2 lead with a 7-0 run, keyed by two blocks and back-to-back Justine Wong-Orantes aces. The Huskers showed considerably improved passing from Sunday’s loss at Michigan and were hitting .433 in taking a 14-5 lead. Nebraska finished out the 25-12 win, its largest margin of victory in a Big Ten set this season.
The Huskers hit .391 in the frame, while Northwestern struggled to a -.091 clip. In set two, Nebraska needed a timeout after Northwestern staked an 11-8 lead. The Huskers came out of the break with a kill by Ostrander and a Wildcat wide shot to get within 11-10. Soon after, the Huskers leveled the set at 12-12 on another Wildcat hit out of bounds. But Northwestern responded with four points in a row to reclaim a 16-12 edge. Northwestern led 18-14, but Haggerty terminated and Northwestern misfired twice and committed a net violation to bring the score level at 18-18. Haggerty swung down from the right side to give Nebraska a 20-19 lead, its first in the set since it was 5-4 Huskers. Haggerty then stuffed Taylor Tashima’s set attack to make it 21-19 Big Red. But the Wildcats rallied to take a 22-21 lead with two kills by Savannah Paffen. Pollmiller caught Northwestern with a surprise attack to tie the set at 22-22, and Alexa Ethridge served an ace straight to the floor to make it 23-22 Huskers. Ostrander then hit off a block and out to give Nebraska set point, and the Huskers finished it off, 25-22, with a chicken-wing save and kill from Ostrander.
The Huskers took any potential drama out of the third set immediately, bolting to an 8-0 lead with some incredible defensive saves along the way. The seventh point of the run came after one of the longest rallies of the season resulted in a block by Hall and Amber Rolfzen to force a Wildcat timeout. Ostrander killed after the timeout to make it 8-0 Huskers, and Nebraska never looked back in closing out the sweep with a 25-13 victory. The Huskers host No. 15 Illinois on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Devaney Center.